Puducherry, also known as Pondicherry or Pondi, a half-day’s drive south of Mamallapuram, served as France’s principal stronghold on the Coromandel during the Carnatic Wars of the 17th century, and remained a colony until 1962. Typically French houses with louvered windows and colour-washed Neoclassical facades line the backstreets of the former Ville Blanche, and other echoes of the Gallic era abound, from the red képis worn by local policemen to the games of pétanque played on the palm-shaded seafront square.

There’s no better way to immerse yourself in the faded French ambience than by staying at one of Pondi’s delightful heritage hotels. As you’d expect, freshly baked croissants, fragrant coffee and coq au vin are also on the menus of local restaurants, several of which are run by French expats.

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